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the flowers which she sent to Theophilus in token of the truth of the faith in which she died : “carry these to Theophilus, say that Dorothea hath sent them, and that I go before him to the garden whence they came and await him there” (see Mrs. Jameson : Sacred and Legendary Art, p. 336, ed. 1850). 1085. VIRGIN AND CHILD.
Unknown (School of the Lower Rhine : 15th century). A picture of the same school as 706, p. 262, but the Flemish influence is here more discernible. In the background is a church lighted from within. The heads are very ugly (notice the saint in the left compartment), but the execution, especially of the accessories, is very delicate. 774. MADONNA AND CHILD.
Ascribed to Hugo van der Goes (Flemish : died 1482). On the Madonna's right is St. Peter ; on her left St. Paul, an arrangement common in early art, St. Peter and St. Paul being the two chief apostles on whom the Church of Christ is built. St. Paul offers a pink to the infant Christ. Flowers were consecrated to the Virgin, and the early painters chose those they liked best to be emblems of love and beauty. The picture is doubtfully given to Van der Goes—an artist whose only certainly known picture is the altar-piece in the hospital of S. Maria Nuova in Florence, and is by some ascribed to Bouts (see under 783, p. 277). 658. THE DEATH OF THE VIRGIN. Martin Schongauer 1 (German-Swabian : 1450-about 1488).
A little work that will hardly serve to bear out the fame of an artist who was known to his contemporaries as “the glory of painters" and “Martin the Beautiful.” He was born at Colmar, but probably studied under Roger van der Weyden. He was equally famous as a painter and as an engraver : in the latter branch he is best represented at Bâle, but there are also prints of his in the British Museum.
The “absolute joy in ugliness,” which Mr. Ruskin finds most strongly exemplified in some of those prints (Nodern Painters, vol. iv. pt. v. ch. xix. $ 18), is not altogether absent from this picture. A more unpleasant bedchamber, with its unseemly crowd of fat bustling apostles (notice the old fellow
1 "Doubtfully ascribed" (Official Catalogue). “By an artist of his school, with considerable variations, from his famous print of the Death of the Virgin" (Sidney Colvin).
puffing away at a censer on the left), it would be hard to conceive. One is glad to escape through the open window to the pretty little view of the square. 713. MADONNA AND CHILD.
Jan Mostaert (Early Dutch : 1474-1555). One of the few specimens in the Gallery of the first period of Dutch art, when it was still following the traditions of the Early Flemish School. See p. 209 and cf. 714, p. 270. 1045. A CANON AND HIS PATRON SAINTS.
Gerard David (Early Flemish : 1460-about 1523). An admirable work by a painter whose name has only recently come to light. He was born in Oudewater, a small town in the south of Holland, but moved to Bruges, where he became a member of the Painters' Guild, and painted several pictures for the Town Hall. This picture was originally the right wing of the reredos, presented to the collegiate church of St. Donatian, at Bruges, by Bernardino de Salviatis, canon, who is here represented with his patron saints—St. Bernardino of Siena behind him, St. Donatian in advance of him, and St. Martin to the left. It was St. Martin who shared his cloak with the beggar, and here in the distance to the left-in compliment to the canon's generosity—is a beggar limping towards the group, asking alms. Notice the wood through which he walks. David “was the first painter to think of the shadowgiving nature of trees. Trees had for many years formed a favourite subject for backgrounds, but even by Memling they were rather conventionally rendered, one by one, not grouped into woods, and seldom brought into the foreground. Here we have a wood brought near us, with its domed canopy of foliage above, and its labyrinth of trunks buried in sylvan twilight below” (Conway, p. 298). 711. “MATER DOLOROSA.” Ascribed to Roger van der Weyden. (See under 653, p. 267).
"It was a common custom with Roger's followers to copy single heads out of their master's large groups. Such single heads always have gold backgrounds, usually dotted over with little black dashes” (Conway, p. 275). This and the companion panel (712) are no doubt instances, and the heads selected for reproduction are typical of that fondness for the ugliness of pain which has been noticed (see under 664, p. 264)
as characteristic of the northern mind. Notice how prominently the tears in the sorrowing mother here, and the blood and tears in the “Ecce Homo" (in 712, p. 277), are made to stand out. 686. THE VIRGIN AND CHILD.
Hans Memling (Early Flemish : 1435-about 1495). Of the life of Hans Memling (often wrongly called Hemling) next to nothing is known--the romantic biographies of him which were once current having now been proved false. He is supposed to have been a pupil of Roger van der Weyden, and is known from the town records to have been settled in Bruges in his own house in 1479. He must have been a citizen of some wealth, for in the next year he was one of those who contributed to a city loan. If his life was like his art, it must have been gentle and peaceful. Memling is one of the leading members of the “Purist " School (see p. 44),—the Fra Angelico, one may say, of Flanders.
In front is a portrait of the donor of the picture. On the Virgin's left is St. George with the dragon—not a very dreadful dragon, either—“they do not hurt or destroy” in the peaceful gardens that Memling fancied. Notice how the peaceful idea is continued in the man returning to his pleasant home in the background to the left. The Virgin herself is typical of the feminine ideal in early Flemish art. “It must be borne in mind that the people of the fifteenth century still lived in an age when the language of symbols was rich and widely understood. . . . The high forehead of the Virgin and wide arching brows tell of her intellectual power, her rich long hair figures forth the fulness of her life, her slim figure and tiny mouth symbolise her purity, her mild eyes with their drooping eyelids discover her devoutness, her bent head speaks of humility. The supreme and evident virtue which reigns in all these Madonnas is an absolute purity of heart. ... Painters of the period, almost without exception, seek to express the presence of this quality. For its sake they smooth away many a wrinkle, and suppress many a bright charm. They often destroy the individuality of their subject, but they never fail to present her as calm and pure” (Conway, pp. 109, 110). 222. A MAN'S PORTRAIT. Jan van Eyck (Early Flenish : 1385-about 1440).
See under next picture. One of Van Eyck's obviously truthful portraits, so highly finished that the single hairs on the shaven chin are given. On the upper part of the frame is the inscription, “Als ich kan" - as I can, the first words of an old Flemish proverb, "As I can, but not as I will,”—an inscription beautifully illustrative of a great man's modesty ; accurately true also as a piece of criticism. No pictures are more finished than Van Eyck's, yet they are only “as he can,” not as he would. * Let all the ingenuity and all the art of the human race be brought to bear upon the attainment of the utmost possible finish, and they could not do what is done in the foot of a fly, or the film of a bubble. God alone can finish ; and the more intelligent the human mind becomes, the more the infiniteness of interval is felt between human and divine work in this respect” (Modern Painters, vol. iii. pt. iv. ch. ix. $ 5). 186. PORTRAITS OF JAN ARNOLFINI AND HIS
WIFE. Jan van Eyck (Early Flemish : 1385-about 1440). The Van Eycks-Hubert, the elder brother, and Jan-were natives of Maesyck (Eyck-sur-Meuse), and are famous as being the artists to whose ingenuity the first invention of the art of painting in oils was for a long time ascribed. The probability is that although the practice of mixing oil with colours was employed for decorative purposes in Germany and elsewhere long before their time, they were the first to so improve it as to make it fully serviceable for figure-painting.1 The art of oil painting reached higher perfection in many ways after their time; but there is no picture in the Gallery which shows better than this,
Up to the time of the Van Eycks the general process of artistic painting for detached pictures was tempera. In this method (as we have seen, p. 67 n.) the colours, after being ground with chalk, were laid on with a medium of water, white of eggs, juice of unripe figs, or some similar substance, Some kind of oil varnish was, however, often laid on afterwards, and a few Italian artists sometimes tried to mix their colours with oil in the first instance ; but the results cannot have been satisfactory, for even Crivelli, who died in 1495, was still exclusively a painter in tempera. The objection to tempera, so far at any rate as northern countries were concerned, was that it suffered from the damp. Thus in an old retable in Westminster Abbey, so painted, the painting has flaked off. The objection to the carly attempts at using oil as a medium was that it took a long time to dry. This caused Van Eyck incessant annoyance ; his knowledge of chemistry led him to make experiments, and at last he obtained a medium which hastened the drying without the necessity of exposure to the sun. This medium was probably a mixture of linseed and nut oils. This method is different from that now called oil-painting. Now the colours are laid on by an oily medium, and when the picture is finished the whole surface is protected by a transparent varnish. Then the varnish was incor. porated with the surface colours (see Conway, p. 119; Wauters, p. 35).
one great capacity of oil painting-its combination, namely, of “imperish. able firmness with exquisite delicacy” (On the Old Road, i. 141).
This picture of a Flemish interior is as spruce and clean now (for the small twig broom did its work so well that the goodman and his wife were not afraid to walk on the polished floor without their shoes), as it was when first painted five hundred years ago. This is the more interesting from the eventful history the picture has had. At one time we hear of a barber-surgeon at Bruges presenting it to the Queen-regent of the Netherlands, who valued it so highly that she pensioned him in return for the gift. At another it must have passed again into humbler hands, for General Hay found it in the room to which he was taken in 1815 at Brussels to recover from wounds at the battle of Waterloo.
For the delicacy of workmanship note especially the mirror, in which are reflected not only the objects in the room, but others beyond what appears in the picture, for a door and two additional figures may be distinguished. In the frame of the mirror, too, are ten minute pictures of the ten “moments” in the Passion of Christ. Notice also the brasswork of the chandelier, and the elaboration of the painter's signature above it. This signature (in Latin), “ John van Eyck was here," exactly expresses the modesty and veracity which was the key. note of his art. The artist only professed to come, to see, and to record what he saw. Arnolfini was the representative at Bruges of a Lucca firm of merchants, and Van Eyck gives us a picture of the quiet, dry, business folk exactly as he found them. Van Eyck, it is interesting to note, though he lived mostly at Bruges, spending infinite pains on his pictures, was not without a sight of the great world, for in 1428 he accompanied an embassy which his patron, the Duke of Burgundy, sent to Spain. The duke was devoted to him, was godfather to his child, and paid a dowry for his daughter. But never was there an artist less puffed up. “ Jan van Eyck was here.” “As I can, not as I would.” Such signatures are the sign-marks of modesty. 290. A MAN'S PORTRAIT. Jan van Eyck (Early Flemish : 1385-about 1440).
See under last picture. A portrait of a friend of the artist, for it is inscribed “ Leal Souvenir”—and a true recollection it obviously is, and was the more acceptable, one likes to think, for being so. “It is not